Others have been embellished, and still others are humorous all the same, and often demonstrate a point by way of example, but one would have to be very gullible indeed to accept every detail at face value. ‘West End Producer’ likes a good double entendre – one about musicians in the orchestra pit playing with their instruments seems a particular favourite.
Rather like his first book, the equally cumbersomely titled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Acting (But Were Afraid to Ask, Dear), the book is structured as though it were a performance. Here, there are five ‘acts’, an ‘overture’, an ‘interval’ (a chapter about the interval in theatres), an ‘epilogue’ and a ‘curtain call’. Details are given about the production history of various long-running musicals, in a typically satirical manner.
It’s accessible, very readable, and gives a comprehensive no-holds-barred overview about every aspect of attending the theatre. The level of honesty is refreshing. An example: whilst some in the industry justify high prices in (certain) theatre bars, saying the proceeds contribute to the costs of running the theatre and ticket prices would be even higher otherwise, this producer is quite happy for patrons to consume the free tap water available from most theatre bars. Otherwise, at the interval: “Drinks in a nearby pub will be much cheaper than in a theatre, so it can make sense to take your business elsewhere […] Obviously you have to keep an eye on the time – you don’t want to miss any of the second half”. Sound advice, to quote a lyric from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard.
For all the humour, much of which is irreverent but nonetheless entertaining, this genuinely is a book that can be used as a guide to actual theatregoing. I loved a paragraph about not leaving if at all possible until the house lights go back up: “…you may as well wait until the very end, and watch every last second of entertainment you’ve paid for”. Now, I personally don’t bother with going to the stage door after the show, unless a companion is especially keen to go, but the sections on ‘What to say to actors’ and ‘How to be a fan’ would be immensely useful if I ever did decide I wanted my copy of a show’s programme autographed after the performance after all.
‘WEP’, as he has no objections to being known as, is kind enough to provide a whistle-stop tour of the major theatres of the West End, and even goes so far as to list some of the notable off-West End/fringe venues as well (hurrah!). Overall, his personal preferences permeate the text (“Actors: riffing is not singing” had me in stitches), and while some of the wit is best appreciated by those who consider themselves regular patrons of the theatre, this is undoubtedly a well-written book.
Oozing with positivity, WEP has some handy advice for dealing swiftly with poor audience etiquette (I won’t reveal any strategies here), and I can only agree with his closing gambit that with the world being what it is, being able to come together to enjoy the live theatrical experience is all the more remarkable. A worthwhile addition to any theatregoer’s book collection, and as the festive holiday period approaches (at the time of writing) this would prove a great seasonal gift, either for yourself or a loved one, or perhaps both. And it is, as WEP would probably put it, infinitely cheaper than tickets to Elf, dear.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the West End…
West End Producer, the masked man of Theatreland and author of the definitive guide to acting*, returns with the ultimate guide to the theatregoing experience – for anyone who’s ever been to the theatre, or who thinks they might like to try it one day.
As the godfather of theatre producers, with an enviable track-record in uncovering new talent (via his competitions Search for a Twitter Star and Search for a Twitter Composer) and a regular column in The Stage newspaper, WEP is a cult figure in London’s theatre scene, frequently attending press nights with his Jean Valjean teddy by his side.
Now he’s ready to share his industry secrets once again, this time coming to the aid of audience members everywhere as they embark on the most perilous quest of all: going to the theatre.
Order your Paperback format from Amazon.co.uk
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre (But Were Too Sloshed to Ask, Dear) Paperback
Order your Kindle format from Amazon.co.uk
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Going To The Theatre (But Were Too Sloshed To Ask, Dear) Kindle Edition
This title will be released on November 30, 2017.
Follow West End Producer on Twitter @westendproducer